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Email Fraud/CFPB Warning

July 13, 2017

In response to the rampant rise in wire fraud, and because we are in prime home buying season, the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) has published a warning to consumers involved in the purchase and financing of a home who may become the target of email scams. It is a worthwhile read for both you and your clients, and contains helpful links to other articles and to the authorities who are dealing with cybercrime; the link is below.

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/buying-home-watch-out-mortgage-closing-scams/ 

Your office, and the buyers, sellers, realtors, and lenders that you work with, may become the target of these fraudsters. Please remind your staff that any request by email to change wire instructions before or after settlement is ALWAYS a red flag and those requested changes must be verified by making a call to a trusted phone number from your file. 

Here are 3 practices which we recommend to protect against wire fraud: 

  1. Be sure that all parties to the transaction are using email services that provide Multifactor Authentication (MFA) and make sure it is enabled. If the buyers, sellers, and realtors that you are communicating with are not protected, the fact that you are will not matter.
  2. Do not call attention to wiring instructions or other NPI which may be included or attached to an email; instead, use the property address as the only Subject of the email and title of attachments. It might take someone an extra 10 seconds to read the body of the message or open the attachment, but it is worth the extra time involved.
  3. Never wire funds based upon the content of an email only. Always assume the email has been compromised somewhere along the way and validate all information over the phone, using a trusted phone number (not a number included in the email).

If you experience a wire fraud, or an attempt to obtain funds by providing false wiring instructions, contact your bank first; then contact the bank to which the funds were wired.  If funds are not immediately recovered, please be sure to contact your underwriter.  To report an incident of cyber fraud, go to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at http://www.ic3.gov/about/default.aspx and contact the FBI's Boston office at 617-742-5533.   

 
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